The Supreme Court on Wednesday received several last-ditch pleas from opponents of the tough new Texas voter ID law. Acting one day after an appellate court effectively kept the Texas law in place, opponents including the Obama administration filed multiple emergency applications asking the high court to remove the lower court’s stay. “The need to ensure that hundreds of thousands of voters in Texas are able to exercise their right to vote, the need to stamp out intentional racial discrimination, and the need to ensure that elections are administered fairly, efficiently, and equitably, the public interest overwhelmingly favors vacating the stay,” attorneys wrote. The initial emergency application, signed by Houston-based attorney Chad W. Dunn, was submitted to Justice Antonin Scalia, who oversees emergency issues in Texas and other Fifth Circuit states. Scalia has the option of forwarding the application to all nine justices. Scalia gave Texas until 5 p.m. Thursday to respond.
The initial application filed Wednesday morning was reinforced early Wednesday evening by an Obama administration filing. “Without this court’s intervention, registered voters across Texas will be irreparably harmed,” the administration’s lawyers argued, warning about “the potential disenfranchisement of over 600,000 Texas voters” as well as “widespread confusion at the polls.” The Texas branches of the NAACP also filed an application Wednesday with the Supreme Court.
The race to the Supreme Court is the latest development following the injunction imposed Oct. 11 by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos. The Corpus Christi, Texas-based trial judge had imposed the injunction following release of a 147-page opinion late Thursday, in which she concluded the Texas law was discriminatory and unconstitutional. A federal appeals court on Tuesday evening reversed Ramos and reinstated Texas’ controversial voter identification law.